Only good news: David McKendrick’s Paperboy magazine highlights the need for positivity

After almost 20 years of art directing magazines for clients, the BAM founder is looking on the bright side for his own publication, featuring his personal wish list of contributors.

21 April 2021


Day in, day out, newspapers fly hot off the press with breaking news, but they rarely capture joy. However, art director David McKendrick’s latest venture, Paperboy, is the creative relief we all need right now. A newspaper with the tagline “delivering only good news since 2021”, it’s a far cry from the stories that have occupied our attention over the past year.

David, like many of us, has felt the heaviness of the news over the past 12 months, “like the world’s algorithm had changed to a constant stream of doom and gloom,” as he puts it to It’s Nice That. His bread and butter, as a graphic designer, art director and co-founder of studio BAM, meant he felt slightly stuck on how his skill set could help with the battle against the virus. Yet creativity should not be underestimated and it’s a powerful tool that has the potential to yield a positive chain reaction. In setting out to seek only good in the maelstrom, David was hungry to use creativity to cut through this tension. After sounding out his ideas with his closest friends and collaborators, the idea arose for Paperboy.

Creating the magazine not only fed David’s appetite for a more positive angle on current affairs, but dually answered a wish to create his own title after almost 20 years of art directing publications and books for clients. Collaborating with his network, within its pages are contributions from renowned writers, photographers and artists, but also high school students and undergraduates. Positioned side by side, David’s approach gives equal value to all these commissions, while placing a spotlight on those entering the industry. “I knew their prospects were going to be dramatically affected and felt that I could help a handful,” he explains.


David McKendrick: Paperboy Issue One (Copyright © David McKendrick, 2021)

Despite his spirit for making new ideas happen, creating the publication was not without its challenges. For instance, David recalls delivering a brief to 25 students over Zoom to a sea of blank faces. A tough gig to start with, the group rose to the challenge and “delivered some mind-blowing work,” he says. For his more experienced collaborators the designer was ambitious in his commissioning, reaching out to his wish list of contributors to a resounding yes. A self-funded project however, this meant robbing his own piggy bank and spending his savings in the process. Each contributor, “regardless of who they were and how accomplished they were,” was offered the same fee of £150 to answer the open brief of creating a piece that felt like “good news” to them. Both high profile and rising stars are then paired together throughout Paperboy’s spreads, with established writers’ contributions sitting with a high school students’ illustration, or vice versa.

Aside from his commissioning there are plenty of quirks in David’s approach, which can be spotted in Paperboy’s creases and folds. With the idea of sharing good news such a key part of its ethos, bound into the magazine is a book of stamps, the idea being that once finished readers can post it forward to someone else. But most of all, it’s the aforementioned pairings that made David smile the most. Highlighting a few favourites, he picks out a piece by student Haley Paku “who wrote the most wonderfully positive piece,” which is accompanied with works by witty artist duo Huntley Muir, “to create such a joyous article.” Another, a fashion story around white jeans with an accompanying commission featuring a specific stain, spoke to David directly as an avid white jean wearer; “it’s a perilous affair every time you put them on”. A stain by definition is a defect and undesirable, yet this commission lends itself to the idea that it’s playful and joyful in its imperfection.

While reading Paperboy an intentional deeper message of selflessness also becomes clear. Offering a sense of community, “where all are welcome, no matter who you are, at what stage, you are welcome as a contributor or a reader,” he adds. With the first issue freshly available, David already has big ideas for a second and is on the lookout for a partner to bring this to life further. Yet even in these early days, Paperboy highlights the need for positivity in our lives, especially in the way it can contribute to how we choose to see the world.

GalleryDavid McKendrick: Paperboy Issue One (Copyright © David McKendrick, 2021)

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David McKendrick: Paperboy Issue One (Copyright © David McKendrick, 2021)

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About the Author

Grace Lister

Grace joined It’s Nice That on a freelance basis in April 2021, alongside completing Make Your Own Masters. She works as a freelance designer, researcher and writer, working on projects that look to emerging shifts and how creativity shapes this.

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